How to Ship Large Freight By Air?

Introduction: Large Freight

Here is a very touching video. This is not only about freight but about a loving heart. It is meant to show large freight is possible on smaller aircraft. Commercial transport of oversized freight is, however, done in a completely different way . Courtesy David Gates We salute you Gary Roberts for your big heart



How to ship large freight is a “large” question. There are too many points to put on the check list. Large freight means freight that is oversized and that includes heavy freight and  is usually shipped as sea freight. However, large machines and structures, often, become emergency freight and the forwarding has to be fast.

Should you charter cargo aircraft? What does the forwarding cost?  How long does it take? What arrangements are to be done? Too many questions surface.

Realistic and Down To Earth Thinking

  • Keep a cool head and think of all possible questions about transportation. You will need to consider at least the following points
  • Freight packaging: if the freight is more than 10 tons, most airlines will refuse a packaged freight. Unknown content, untold risk!
  • Know the dimensions of the freight: Length, Width and Height
  • Weigh the freight! Know the nett and the gross weight
  • A heavy-duty forklift might be needed
  • A gantry crane might be necessary
  • Should a heavy-duty crane be ordered?
  • Cranes might mean, the freight has rings for steel shafts to be inserted. The hoist chains or cables are then attached to the shafts
  • Any moving items need to be dismantled and secured in such a way that the pieces neither move nor cause damage to the sides of the freight
  • If the freight can be moved, lifted or loaded using a forklift, the freight must be mounted on pallets (please refer  freight packaging  )
  • Do not finish the packaging before the airline people inspect the cargo

No hazardous materials to be included! Any item, which has been classified as hazardous as per the IATA regulation, is to be excluded. Pressure chambers are classified as dangerous goods. so ship them separately.  VERY IMPORTANT: When packaging pressure chambers, make the packaging so dense that the content does not show any movement when shaken. (This will be updated)

  • Any fragile item should be excluded or well protected.
  • Protect the edges of the freight. styrofoam is better. It is light
  • Make room available under the freight for wooden boarding! Metal against metal (air freight pallets are of aluminium) is not permitted on aircraft.


Dimension, Weight and other factors

  • The aircraft doorways are not extremely big. There are limitations like door actuators, which, although small, can become problematic for ver high cargo
  • The length, width and the height of the freight have to be considered in relationship to the aircraft and the weight of the freight
  • Not all aircraft have winches on board
  • If the height of the freight is more than 240 cm, it cannot be loaded on to  an MD 11
  • On a 747 freighter a height of 295 cm might be critical (depending on the version of the aircraft )
  • Nose Load (loading through the nose of the aircraft: the cone is lifted to show the cargo compartment located under the cockpit on a 747 jumbo) is not possible for freight of more than 249 cm! (weight and width of the cargo will also be taken into consideration)
  • Advance arrangements for offloading and transportation are to be done at the airport of destination.
  • Additionally, the import clearance should be planned down to the minutest detail.


  • Know your international air freight rate!
  • You are paying for volume! It is the chargeable weight that counts.
  • Ask for the chargeable weight on the air way bill  (if you are being billed for items separately and not a single lump sum price )
  • Should your freight be insured?
  • Crane charges are for the time taken! ask for the correct pricing!



  • Keep good photos of the freight (even digital ones)
  • Commercial invoices
  • Packing Lists
  • If wood is used: have you included a fumigation certificate? Ask the consignee if it is needed! Written statements, please!
  • Contact numbers (telephone, fax, mobile phone etc.) mentioned on the papers?



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